Negative Effect Of E-waste
In my previous hub, I wrote about the electronic waste or E-waste. As I have mentioned, it is one of the fastest growing solid material in the world and it will continue to grow as the technology become more advance. Not only does it left a big threat to our environment, but it is also very dangerous to our human health if there is no careful control. Currently, US and EU are the biggest E-waste producer in the world, and believe it or not, according to report by Basel Action Network, 80% of their waste is shipped to developing countries such as China, India, Pakistan and Ghana. These nations are facing many environmental and health problems in the area of where the e-waste are being dumped. Thus, in this article I will discuss about the air pollution, water contamination and human health problems that are affected by the E-waste in China.
Firstly, let talk about the air pollution that cause by the E-waste. E-waste not only contain many toxic substances, but it also contains some partial amount of valuable material such as gold, silver and copper. Thus, the people around E-waste dumped area trying to extract those precious metals by using primitive methods without considering the effect that could cause to their environment. For instance, investigators of Greenpeace who visited a recycling place in Guiyu, China saw men, women and children pulling wire from computers and burning them to extract the copper, fouling the air with poisonous smoke. Components that cannot be recycled are being incinerated which result in releasing heavy metals and toxic substances to the air such as lead, mercury, cadmium and brominated flame retardants. Thus the air quality in the area is polluted heavily.
Beside the bad air quality, the water in those region are being contaminated as well. Workers often use acid bath to dissolve the lead and other metals contained in the electronics in order to extract the gold and silver. Other reaming part is wash directly into the nearby rivers and other water bodies. Worthless part of the electronics are disposed to landfill and at some period of time, the toxin will each into ground water or nearby water bodies. For instance, lead can leach from landfills into drinking water supplies. According to a research done by Basel Action Network in Linjaing river, Guiyu shows that, the content of lead in water is between 1.9-24mg/L. It is much higher than the WHO guideline that is only 0.01mg/L. As a result, the drinking water in Guiyu has been imported from nearby town since the appearance of the electronic waste industry.
Not only air and water are being affected, our human health also suffer from it as well. The people in that area could face many disease especially for the one who expose directly with the E-waste. Skin disease, lung cancer, brain damage, kidney disease and abortion are some of the disease that they could face. According to a group of scientist studied about the effect of E-waste in those area have discovered that, in Guiyu which is the biggest E-waste recycling center in China, has the highest level of cancer causing dioxin and abortion rate in the world. Not only adults that are affected, the children in that area are also suffer as well. For instance, Shantou Medical College has conducted a research in Guiyu. In this research, the blood of 165 children were taken to measure the Blood Lead Levels. As a result, about 82% of them have the BLLS greater than 10 μg/dL. This lead Levels in blood can result in lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduce attention span, hyperactivities and antisocial behavior.
As you have seen in the discussion above, e-waste left a really big thread to the environment and human health. Many people around the E-waste dumped site are affected heavily. Thus, there should be a solid policy to deal with it as soon as possible such as there should be a strict regulation to e-waste industries as well as there should be a training program about the health on self-protection from the hazardous of E-waste.